Apple’s M1 Pro and M1 Max Chips Flex are the Power of Custom Silicon


The M1 Pro and M1 Max chips have many upgrades and changes compared to Apple’s first custom laptop chip, the M1, announced in November 2020. The Pro has 33.7 billion transistors, more than two times the M1, while the M1 Max has 57 billion transistors. The same new chips have 10 central processing units (CPUs), which Apple says will result in a 70 percent increase in performance compared to the M1.

Using shared memory, the new chips integrate CPU cores, creating program instructions that are for most purposes, with graphics processing cores that provide an image, thus taking a bottleneck that apps often face when working between the two.

This type of system-on-a-chip architecture is common on smartphones but it is not common on laptops or desktops. Because Apple controls the chip and the operating system, it can support more memory and faster transfers, as well. Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research, which follows the chip industry.

“These are supercomputer-level bandwidths,” Hutcheon said. “It’s a pretty revolutionary move from Apple.”

The 16-inch MacBook “learns more creative productivity, video editing, sound mixing, animation graphics, and more,” said Wayne Lam, senior director for research at CCS Insights.

But not every feature that Apple adds to its computers is a success. “What happened to the Touchbar?” Lam asked, explaining a part clearly not on the new MacBook Pros. “It’s one of the dead evolving things Apple does every now and then.”

The M1 Pro and Max are, of course, especially bad news for Intel, that is try a comeback after years of wrong steps. Speaking to HBO’s Axios, Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of Intel, said he would aims to return the company’s chips to Apple products. Intel’s upcoming 12th-generation CPU, named Alder Lake, feature more integrated components following a similar design logic to the M1 Pro and Max.

“Apple decided they could make a better chip than we could, and they did well,” Gelsinger said. “All I have to do is make a better chip than they can make on their own. I hope to recover this part of their business.”

Other laptop makers may follow Apple’s lead in accepting custom ARM -based chips. In March, Qualcomm Nuvia acquisition is completed, a startup specialist in ARM -based chips for laptops. It says the three Nuvia founders all previously worked on Apple’s silicon.


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